I just returned from a long weekend at our little camp in Northern Vermont. The weather was warm and sunny, the frost is out of the ground and the drifts of Queen Ann’s Lace have replaced the snow banks along the roadsides. Summer has finally come to the North Woods!
Our neighbors are plowing the fields to plant corn and the cows and horses are grazing lazily on the new pasture grasses. In the distance however, the buzzing sound of chain saws and tractors cutting hay washes over the landscape. Winter has ended but next winter looms on the horizon for the people of the North Woods. It will take all summer to cut, split, stack and season firewood for next winter. All summer to cut and bale hay for the livestock who rely on the farmers for lots of food to sustain them over the long cold winters. This weekend was “First Cut” haying, the most nutritious if baled at just the right time. Wood must also be cut and readied for the “boiling” durng maple sugaring season next spring.
For those of us who just turn up the thermostat and locate our mittens when it gets cold, the concept of spending all summer getting ready for next winter is something I have never given a second thought to – until we built our little camp. Having plenty of nice dry, seasoned split wood is necessary in order for us to spend time at camp in the winter. Soooo, during the summer we also spend a good amount of time readying the store of wood for next winter. It is hard work but very satisfying to know that we will be warm and cozy during our visits.
When I’m stacking wood I often think about a program that I watched on tv a few years ago where several modern families were chosen to live for a summer as the Pioneers did somewhere in the Midwest . Part of their daily chores were to prepare for winter. At the end of their experience they were graded on their rediness – seasoned wood, preserved food and fodder for the livestock. Not one family and their livestock would have survived. I add a few more logs to the stack.